Glass Cockpit or Glass Cage?

In today’s society, we are starting to become attached to our technology and the appeal of automation. In automobiles, there are technologies that aid the driver to a great extent and these same drivers are unaware of these systems. Such systems include: anti-lock braking, traction control, automatic transmission, and power steering. This can be related to Carr’s view that automation can make travel safe, but too much can take away from the skill of the pilot. In Carr’s work, there are statements of fact, definition, value, and policy. The statement of fact is that automation plays a big role in the flight inputs and flight patterns of pilots. Automation can also play a big part in plane crashes as it can take away from the pilots’ awareness of their surroundings as seen with the story of the Q400 crash. The statement of definition can be what considered too much automation. Carr says that nowadays “the role of the pilot has shifted toward becoming a monitor or supervisor of the automation” (Carr 53). Being a pilot could have been considered a very dangerous job, but with the advances in today’s technology in automation, the job has become like less work for the pilot. The question of value is whether or not more automation should be put in place to increase the safety air travel. The skill of the pilot can decay without frequent practice due to new automation systems. This can present a problem because when the need for manual controls arises, there is a chance that the pilot will enter the wrong input which will result in a crash. The question of policy could be whether or not a flight engineer should be put back into place. Carr says that flight engineers were completely taken out of the equation onboard planes. The U.S. government had said that due to automation, there was no need to have a flight engineer onboard. The addition of a flight engineer can help decrease the chance of crashes due to pilot error, because an extra set of eyes can help the pilot concentrate on more important flight tasks. Carr uses evidence given by studies on pilot skills and automation. He relates the pilot’s inputs to riding a bike. The feedback from the bike  connects the human to the machine. Carr says that the fly-by-wire system completely cuts off that connection. He tries to relate the situation to the audience to make it seem more relatable. The current salary of pilots can be used to demonstrate the skills nowadays compared in relation to other jobs. It makes it seem like the job’s of pilots is a lazy one. The reading ends with Carr stating that a glass cockpit can also be a glass cage. We can see the world around us and technology can make it seem easy to do tasks, but it can also be seen as a glass cage in which we are slaves to our own devices. On the inside we see it as a glass cockpit, but on the outside, it can be seen as a cage.

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